Black History Month Research Project (African-American Leaders)


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I am so excited to share this resource with you. It is one of my favorite projects that we do all year in the third grade.  We spend the entire month immersing our students in research of some of the greatest African-American leaders of all time.  Our students make 3-dimensional portraits of their person, write a 5-paragraph essay including a direct quote from one of their sources, and engage in a variety of higher-ordered thinking activities that help them to assimilate their new knowledge. As a culminating activity, our students dress up like their African-American leaders and give a short speech from first-person point of view for other students, teachers, and their parents! It is such a blast! 

At this moment, I have been able to prepare the resources we use for the 5-paragraph research essay. In the future, I hope to be able to add some of the craft activities into this resource, as well as comprehension reading passages for specific African American leaders in order to simplify the research process. If you purchase the product now, you will be able to lock in the low price, but will have all future additions available to you for no additional cost. 

Research projects can often be overwhelming because they cover such a variety of standards. It is my hope that this 32-page resource will help streamline the process for both you and your students so that it is both educational and enjoyable!

This resource includes the all of the following:


I. AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADER RESEARCH NOTES PACK (pages 3-9)
I personally make a copy of this notes packet for each student.  I include all pages, but I left off page numbers so that you can mix and match to best meet your students’ needs. 
  • Cover page (including an illustration of the leader)
  • Childhood and Family Background
  • 3 Interesting Facts (allows students to personalize with information they find really interesting about their chosen leader)
  • 2 Direct Quotes (focuses on citing resources to incorporate direct quotes into the final research paper)
  • 3 Accomplishments (focuses on specific things their leader accomplished that made the world a better place in which to live)
  • Resources page


II. GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS (pages 10-15)
These research-based strategies are designed to help students increase their overall comprehension of the topic they are studying. All graphic organizers are designed to help students assimilate what they have been learning about their African-American leader.
  • Leader and Me: Students will use this graphic organizer to make a personal connection to their leader, looking for positive character traits that they may have in common.
  • Making Inferences: Students will use this graphic organizer to combine text clues with the schema (prior knowledge) in order to make inferences about their leaders. It is a great tool to use while they are doing their research to make them think more deeply about the topic.
  • Alpha Boxes: Students will use higher-ordered thinking skills to determine which words are most important when describing their person. I like to pair students up after they complete the word sort to discuss with a partner why they chose each word and to compare and contrast.
  • Venn Diagram: I like to have students use this after they meet with a partner to compare and contrast the words from their Alpha Boxes graphic organizer. It is a great follow-up activity.
  • Select Two and Reflect (STAR): Students will choose any 2 words they associate with their leader to write in the boxes at the top of the page. They will then describe in a complete sentence, group of sentences, or paragraph the relevance of those specific words to their leader.  This is also a great conversation starter for small group or partner discussion. 


III. RESEARCH REPORT PLANNER (pages 16-18)

These planning pages help students align the research they collected in their Research Notes into proper paragraph format.  It outlines which information is expected in each paragraph of the report.  I do not require students to write their entire report at once. Rather, I break it into the specific paragraphs to focus on one at a time. This helps students not get overwhelmed.

IV. DIFFERENTIATED SUPPORT (pages 19-22)
These 3 pages contain fill-in-the-bank portions for students that need help with sentence completion. It will provide great scaffolding for ESL, special needs, or other learners that need a little extra support.

V. REPORT STATIONARY (pages 23-28)
  • Intermediate Lined Paper (2 pages)
  • Primary Lined Paper (2 pages)


VI. EDITING CHECKLISTS (pages 29-31)
  • Editing Checklist (full page)
  • Editing Checklist (half page)


I hope you find this product helpful! I have found it really helps get my students excited about the research process and stay organized in the process. I give each of my students a manila file folder as their “special research folder” during the project as well, and they love using it! 
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